Speak Up Program

Facts about Speak Up Initiatives

In March 2002, The Joint Commission, together with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, launched a national campaign to urge patients to take a role in preventing health care errors by becoming active, involved and informed participants on the health care team. The program features brochures, posters and buttons on a variety of patient safety topics. Speak UpTM encourages the public to:

  1. Speak up if you have questions or concerns, and if you don’t understand, ask again. It’s your body and you have a right to know.
  2. Pay attention to the care you are receiving. Make sure you’re getting the right treatments and medications by the right health care professionals. Don’t assume anything.
  3. Educate yourself about your diagnosis, the medical tests you are undergoing, and your treatment plan.
  4. Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate.
  5. Know what medications you take and why you take them. Medication errors are the most common health care mistakes.
  6. Use a hospital, clinic, surgery center, or other type of health care organization that has undergone a rigorous on-site evaluation against established state-of-the-art quality and safety standards, such as that provided by The Joint Commission.
  7. Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the health care team.

Speak Up initiatives

  1. Understanding your doctors and other caregivers
  2. Know your rights
  3. Help prevent medical test mistakes
  4. Planning your follow-up care
  5. What you should know about research studies
  6. Help avoid mistakes with your medicines
  7. Five things you can do to prevent infection
  8. Information for living organ donors
  9. Help avoid mistakes in your surgery
  10. Help prevent errors in your care

The success of Speak Up

In a survey conducted in 2005, of more than 600 accredited organizations, 81 percent reported that campaigns like Speak Up bring value to the accreditation process, 82 percent would like to see The Joint Commission sponsor more patient education programs in the future; and 91 percent rated the campaign as excellent, very good or good. Organizations are using Speak Up materials and information in a variety of ways:

  1. 65 percent have reprinted information listed in the Speak Up brochure in their patient/resident/client handbooks or other education materials.
  2. 62 percent have reproduced the actual Speak Up brochure and 30 percent have purchased Speak Up brochures from The Joint Commission.
  3. 38 percent have ordered the Speak Up poster from The Joint Commission and 52 percent have reproduced the Speak Up poster.
  4. 35 percent have ordered Speak Up buttons from The Joint Commission.

Heath care organizations have reported printing Speak Up materials for patient rooms; sponsoring local public service announcements using their own physicians and nurses; including the brochure content in patient information materials, websites and community newsletters; distributing material at health fairs; sharing it on closed-circuit patient education television; using it for staff education and orientation; and distributing it on bedside tent cards.

Speak Up materials

All Speak Up materials are available online. The brochures are in Macintosh file format to enable designers or printers to easily download and print as many copies as a health care organization would like to distribute to its patients, staff and community members. Note: These files are not PC-compatible-they were created for designers or commercial printers. The brochures include a blank panel for organizations to insert their own patient safety information, logo and contact information. Speak Up materials also are available for purchase through Joint Commission Resources at (877) 223-6866 or online at the JCR Web Store.

For more information about Speak Up and reprint information, call Cathy Barry-Ipema, chief communications officer, at (630) 792-5630.